It’s every gym newbies nightmare: opening a list of gym class schedules or training options, only to be faced with a menu of written in an alien language. HITT? LISS? TUT? What’s with all these acronyms anyway?! For some beginners, it’s enough to close the book – literally! – and skip the workout altogether. In this article, we’ll go through some of the most common fitness class types (and their acronyms!), together to ensure that your first day back at the gym won’t be your last.
HIIT – HIGH INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING
What is consists of:
Short bouts of exercise at maximal effort (90-100% of your total ability), followed by short bouts of either rest, or walking in place – anything to get your heart rate back down.
How often it should be done:
One 30-45min session per week is typically enough for the average gym goer to experience some benefits without burning out.
Why HIIT is so popular:
For years now, HIIT has been seen as the holy grail of exercises, especially because promoters of it promise big results with less total time spent sweating. That’s because working so hard pushes your body to use anaerobic metabolic processes (meaning that there is insufficient oxygen to fuel your system the way you normally do), which in turn forces your body to turn to alternate sources of energy, like whatever glycogen and fat stores it may have lying around. If you workout hard enough, HIIT can also keep your metabolism slightly elevated for another 24-26 hours post-workout. Translation: HIIT utilizes existing energy sources for a more chiseled you.
LISS – LOW INTENSITY STEADY STATE (OR LOW INTENSITY SUSTAINED STATE)
What is consists of:
Steady state cardio – meaning you stay at a consistent rate – done at a brisk pace that’s equivalent to about 50-60% of your max output, for 30-60min. Examples of LISS exercises include power walking, swimming and using the stair master.
How often should LISS be done:
The great news is that LISS can be done daily, if desired! The amount of time spent in one time is key, so if you start being wiped after 30 minutes, try doing those 30 min three times a week until it feels a bit easier, then add on 5 minutes for a total of three 35min LISS sessions a week.
Why LISS is so popular:
LISS isn’t a new workout style, but it’s become popular again in recent years due to famous trainers (specifically Aussie trainer Kayla Itsines), supporting it. It’s a great way to begin getting back into shape (almost everyone can do some form of it), and it’s also a nice way for those are already hitting the gym hard to have “active” rest days. Plus, given how sedentary much of the world’s population has become, LISS provides a great way to move more, even on days that you don’t feel up to sweating it out more intensely.
TUT WORKOUT – TIME UNDER TENSION WORKOUT (OR “SLOWERCISE”)
What is consists of:
Time Under Tension (TUT) is simply a face way of saying “the amount of time during an exercise that a muscle is actively engaged or under strain”. That said, the concept behind this workout is form over speed: you push yourself – at a snail’s pace – to the point of muscular exhaustion in order to get big results.
How often should TUT be done:
That depends on how you utilize or participate in this fitness type. For many people, applying the TUT concept is best done with heavy weights, in which case giving yourself 3-4 days between workouts per body part (ex. Wednesday and Saturday can both be leg/lower body days, but doing a leg day both Wednesday and Thursday set you up for potential injury). TUT can also be done without weights (e.g. crunches done like a sloth), in which case the frequency can increase to a few days a week, spacing out muscle groups as always to ensure proper recovery.
Why TUT/Slowercise is so popular:
No sweat/low sweat exercises are always tempting, but they also come with skepticism. That is, until a few years back when a trainer let it leak that this style of exercise is a favorite of Victoria’s Secret models. Now, TUT exercises have gone beyond no sweat and still emphasize great form – this time with the addition of heavy weights. By lifting heavy and slowly our bodies build muscle, raise our heart rates and, overtime, can raise our base metabolic rate – the amount of energy we consume just sitting around on an average day, existing – as a result of our increased muscle mass.
STRETCHERCISE – A COMBO TERM I USE TO REFER TO EXERCISES THAT STRETCH OUT, REALIGN AND/OR LENGTHEN THE BODY
What it consists of:
A quick google search will show you that everyone uses this phrase differently. For our purposes, stretchercise refers to exercises such as yoga, pilates, yogalates and stretching.
How often should Strechercise exercises be done:
As often as daily. When done gently, these stretch sore/tight muscles and can help to better align the body. Plus, they’re relaxing – ommmm!
Why Strechercise exercises are so popular:
Like LISS, gentle yoga, stretching and pilates classes are a great way to have an active recovery day or as an entry point for fitness newbies. They also are amazing at helping to even out muscle imbalances (we all have those pesky “tight” areas in our bodies), and can help to prevent injury by keeping muscles at their ideal length. The added perks of relaxation and great posture don’t hurt either!
So now that you know a bit about the different umbrella exercise groups, how do you know which one is right for you? Is there a way to mix and match? Tune in next week for my deep dive into the pros and cons of each to help you pick your ideal exercise!
Thanks for reading, and please let me know if there are any other exercises/exercise groups that you’d like to see added to the list!